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10/10/05 Journal Entry
10/10/05 Journal Entry
It’s been a week full of both boredom and excitement. I spent last weekend making corrections on the lyric and poetry book I’m going to self publish soon. My car was broke from Friday till Tuesday so travel was limited.
Tuesday night I went to see the film Capote. It is one of those films that sticks with you and you keep thinking about it for days afterwards. Its about the writing of In Cold Blood.
All week I’ve had a hard time taking care of business. I hate making endless calls to radio stations on behalf of artists I don’t believe in. If I get another client or two maybe I can hire some NYU girls to make the calls.
Friday morning I went to a meeting with some woman who wants to start a record label to promote her career as a Broadway ballad songwriter. I guess she has loads of money, but I just don’t have the stomach to hustle for something I don’t believe in. But I have to keep the money flowing, I have to remember that it allows me the freedom to be an artist and stay out of the corporate world.
Friday night I went to see the film “History Of Violence.” Wow, what a unique, engaging film. As might be expected a bit violent. Some of the violent scenes were very funny. The ending reminded me a bit of Cape Fear where the family pulls themselves out of the mud after each takes a turn at trying to kill.
Saturday I drove to Philly to see Beck. The drive down was horrendous. A thick cold rain made driving miserable. The air was so gray and hazy that I was squinting my eyes fro the entire two plus hour drive.
My tickets were for the orchestra pit which had no seats. But I was right in front of the stage. Beck was predictably amazing. He always pushes the envelope, you never know what’s coming next.
It was the last night of his tour so they played a little extra to celebrate. The first time I saw him was the last night of the Odelay tour. After having a whole tour to perfect the show it was incredibly tight from beginning to end.
I once saw him in the first days of the Midnight Vultures tour and the performance was a but clunky. Although the show did have a brilliant Dadaistic ending. As the band made a chaotic racket as the last song crashed to an end the horn section picked up mannequin limbs and ran madly through the audience. The keyboard player a frumpy fellow in jeans, a Superman T-shirt, and with a sad red cape tight around his neck. He ran back and forth across the stage with his arms stretched out in front of him like a four year old having fantasies of superhero flight.
Meanwhile Beck wandered around the stage picking up tambourines and placing them over his head. Once his face was hidden behind a circle of five of the things, he put the mike up to were his mouth was hidden, and through a gap between two tambourines, gave the audience and extended Bronx cheer. A moment of artistic brilliance if ever I saw one.
One of the things I like about Beck is that he knows music. Not theory and technical details, but the history of American music and how to reference the genres and styles to mold new creations. Like most great artists he steals freely but never imitates. For me these references are like little jokes for those that get them. He steals from Prince and James Brown on a regular basis, but he steals just as freely from Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams, Grandmaster Flash and DEVO.
For me it’s fun to see how artists expand on each other’s ideas, whether it me musical, lyrics, or staging. During Bowie Serious moonlight tour back in the 80’s, he had his horn players take a break by playing poker while sitting on wooden crates in the middle of the stage. I did a variation on that by having the girl singers put on make-up and read Simone De Beviour’s A Second Sex while the band played a hard rock song. Beck took the idea a sep further by having the whole band sit at a picnic table and eat soup and salads while he did an acoustic set as few feet away. Eventually the began providing a rhythm section by banging forks on plates and glasses between bites of humus and green peppers.
After the concert the rain had broke and the highway was deserted so I drove to Harrisburg and slept in the parking lot of a fancy motel. The temperature got down to the low 50s but I survived the cold.
In the morning I drove another 60 miles to Lewistown to rehearse with Friction. It was a last rehearsal before the reunion show on the 15th. It was also the first time we played the whole show straight through. Drumming for hours on end really wracked my body. Those drum parts and really brutalizing. Plus I’m not fueled by cocaine and tequila as I was in my younger days when I wrote those parts and played drums on a regular basis.
Brian held, one of the Sick Pies showed up to watch the proceedings. In the years since I last saw him he lost most of his teeth, making his speech a bit slurred. His mind was still abstract and brilliant. First he told me that he never drinks, but is planning to get plastered the night of the performance.
“I’m going to tie a string around my finger so I remember not to act like an idiot,” he explained.
Later the boys in the band were discussing the fact that they wanted to have the event at the local Moose Club lodge but the Moose Club people rejected the idea because we weren’t “family oriented enough.”
“Carrying your sperm around with you, what can be more family oriented than that,” Brian responded incredulously.
“What does that mean,” I asked laughing.
Everyone looked at me like I was a fool for asking. Only then did it come back to me that it’s been ten years since I was accustomed to Brian’s strange form of communication. With his special language you had to avoid the pitfall of trying to understand, and just let it sink in, and then a bizarre logic began to come into focus.
Brian is really a special person. He is so outrageous with his wry comments, but the most polite and caring person you’d ever want to meet. Every time he walked by me he would say “excuse me.” A strange contradiction of a man.
Jim, one of the guitar players, told a story of driving back to PA. in the middle of the night after a gig at CBGBs. He heard a thumping noise and turned to find Brian punching himself in the face. “The pain keeps me awake,” he explained.
I had spoken to Brian about drawing an image the CD cover for a first single. I wanted a characture of myself as a frazzled punk with eyes popping out of my head, in pose based on Elvis Presley’s first album. I hadn’t given him any details, but he made a bizarre sexual drawing for me that he said was his version of the Amish hex signs that our placed on barns to ward of evil spirits.
The five-hour drive back to New York was brutal. I am really sick of traveling those roads.